Student Essay Contest 2021

Student Essay Contest 2021

Celebrating emerging thought leadership and excellence in communication around the world's most complex food system challenges



An essay contest for undergraduate and graduate students — with BIG prizes!

  • First place: $1500
  • Second place: $1000
  • Third place: $500
  • Runners-up: Exciting non-cash prizes
  • Winning and runner-up essays to be announced and published on Protein Report


Any university student or recent graduate from anywhere in the world can participate.


Submissions must be received by September 24, 2021. Results will be announced in October 2021.


To participate, carefully read the sections below.


To encourage, support, and reward emerging thought leadership and excellence in communication.


Protein industry challenges are numerous, multifaceted, and interconnected. From deforestation and biodiversity loss to pandemic risk and antimicrobial resistance — to name just a few — the threats presented by inaction are nothing short of existential. But who is responsible for initiating and implementing solutions? It seems unfair and impractical to place all the burden on consumers. And yet, consumer preferences, beliefs, opinions, and behaviors are key to the success of any public- or private-sector interventions. Against the complexity and uncertainty of this situation, one thing remains clear: Time to find a solution is running out.

The rapidly evolving science of cellular agriculture offers the possibility to solve many of the world's protein-related dilemmas within a timeframe not otherwise on the table. But realizing its promise will require overcoming barriers at the technical, policy, economic, and sociocultural levels. As a potentially transformative new technology, cellular agriculture also brings its own set of risks regarding how it is ultimately utilized and distributed.

In this context, what issue does your general field of study or your particular research interest address, and how does it contribute toward a solution?

Rules & Requirements

Eligibility: In order to participate, you must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student or have completed your degree within the past three months at the time of submission.

Multiple authors: Submissions with multiple authors may be accepted, however, all authors must meet the contest’s eligibility requirements, and only one representative may be responsible for submitting the essay and receiving prizes if selected as a winner.

Exclusivity: The essay must not have already been published or submitted for publication elsewhere at the time of submission.

Essay length: No minimum. Maximum 4000 words.

Selection Process

Protein Report editors will shortlist up to 10 finalist essays to present to the judges. In order to be considered for shortlisting, submissions must follow guidance from the Language and Sources sections of Protein Report's Code of Practice, as well as the code's general principles and overall spirit. Initial review and shortlisting will also focus on quality of writing, reasoning, and originality.

Finalist essays will be shared with the panel of judges, who will evaluate and rank each according to the following criteria:

  1. Thought, vision, and conceptual scope: Does the essay elevate the reader's thinking or understanding?
  2. Writing quality: Flow, style, focus, and clarity — is it a good read?
  3. Analytical and/or creative depth: How effectively and accurately does the essay cover its subject matter?
  4. Good practice: Is it balanced in approach, language, tone, and target audience?

Read about how final scores will be calculated.


Submit your essay by September 24, 2021 using the following link:


Note: For security purposes, you will need to be logged in to a Google account in order to access the form and upload your document.

Important: Essay documents must begin directly with the essay title. Your essay's title must NOT include your name or the name of your university. The essay document must NOT include a cover page and must NOT include any headers or footers containing your name or the name of your university. Submissions failing to follow these instructions will not be accepted.

Sources and citations: There is no requirement to use a specific style guide, however, all sources must be referenced using parenthetical citations and included in a list of works or bibliography at the end of the essay document. Citations in footnote form will not be accepted.

Terms & Conditions

By submitting an entry you agree to the following:

  • To surrender full ownership and copyright of the essay to Protein Report — it may not be published elsewhere, in whole or in part, without Protein Report’s explicit permission, including modified versions of the work.
  • To guarantee the essay was written entirely by yourself (or listed team members if a multiple-author submission), and no part of the essay has been plagiarized, copied, or paraphrased from any other author without giving explicit credit to the original.
  • Protein Report may edit essays it chooses to publish for style, content, and to conform to Protein Report’s editorial standards.
  • Protein Report reserves the right to cancel the contest or change its rules, terms, conditions, or prizes at any time for any reason at its sole discretion.


Jeremiah Johnston

Jeremiah Johnston
Research Program Director, New Harvest

Bianca Lê

Bianca Lê
Director, Cellular Agriculture Australia

Kara Leong

Kara Leong
Development Director, University of California, Davis

Teni Ekundare

Teni Ekundare
Head of Investor Outreach, FAIRR Initiative

Lenore Newman

Lenore Newman
Director, Food and Agriculture Institute, University of the Fraser Valley

Alex Shirazi

Alex Shirazi
Host, Cultured Meat and Future Food Show

Kate Krueger

Kate Krueger
Founder and CEO, Helikon Consulting

Matthew Clancy

Matthew Clancy
Assistant Teaching Professor, Department of Economics, Iowa State University

Galina Hale

Galina Hale
Professor of Economics, UC Santa Cruz

Nicky Quinn

Nicky Quinn
Global Marketing Director, Aleph Farms

Andrew Noyes

Andrew Noyes
Head of Global Communications, Eat Just, Inc.

Read about our approach to fair judging and conflicts of interest.


How many winners will be selected?

There will be a total of three winning essays:

  • Gold: one winner
  • Silver: one winner
  • Bronze: one winner
  • Runners-up: TBD based on submission
  • Honorable mentions: TBD based upon submissions

I'm enrolled in a community college/associate's degree program. Can I participate?

Only students enrolled full time in bachelor's, master's, and doctoral-level programs, and those who have graduated in the past three months at the time of submission, may participate.

Will I be notified about the result?

Winning essays will be announced publicly. Due to the large number of expected submissions, only winners, runners-up, and honorable mentions selected for publication on Protein Report will be contacted.

If my essay is not selected or the contest is canceled, will ownership and copyright be returned to me?

Yes. If the contest is canceled or if Protein Report chooses not to publish a submission, full ownership and copyright will be returned to the author.

Can my essay include images?

Yes. However, they must be owned by you or free from any copyright that would restrict their publication on Protein Report.

I'm not a native speaker of English. Can I still participate?

Anyone is welcome to submit their essay, however, only those written in a native level of English will be accepted.

About fairness and conflicts of interest

Judges have been selected for their demonstrated commitment to advancing key approaches and activities relevant to the contest's goals. This includes work in scientific research, student professional development, multidisciplinary strategies, communication and public relations, and the encouragement of deeper thinking around protein industry issues and solutions, among other credentials. In order to ensure that there are no conflicts of interest, actual or perceived, in the judging process, each judge has agreed to the following statement and set of rules:

Judge Statement:

I am committed to the contest goals and to upholding, in principle and in practice, a strictly merit-based judging process. I understand my actions as a judge not only reflect upon my integrity, but also that of Protein Report, the Student Essay Contest, and the hard work of participating students who expect their essays to be judged fairly. I agree to evaluate each essay impartially, based solely upon its merit, and with no consideration for the submitting student's university, country, region, age, gender, or any other non-merit-based factors that may be identifiable in the submission. I understand that any indication of strategic, biased, or discriminatory voting in favor of, or against, any submission or group of submissions will disqualify all of my evaluations and result in my removal from the judge panel. I agree to voluntarily recuse myself from evaluating any essays for which I may have a conflict of interest, regardless of whether the specific conflict is explicitly mentioned in this statement or in the judge rules.

Judge Rules:

  • Judges will not evaluate submissions by students from their alma mater, current university of employment, or any school from which the judge has received expressed or implied offers of employment or cooperation, paid or unpaid.
  • Judges will not evaluate submissions from students they personally know or have communicated with in the past six months.
  • Judges will evaluate and rate each essay entirely independently and will not discuss or disclose their evaluations with any other party, including other judges, prior to the contest's completion.
  • Judges will not evaluate submissions by students from which any known pending or accepted applications or offers of study at the undergraduate, graduate, or post-doctoral level are in process that might result in a conflict of interest.

In order to support an impartial judging process, Protein Report will keep all individual judge submission evaluations strictly confidential.

How will final results be calculated?

Each essay will be numerically rated across several parameters by each judge, excluding those submissions with which the judge may have a conflict of interest. The ratings of all judges will be aggregated to determine the essays with the highest-total scores. Due to judge recusals or disqualifications, some submissions may have fewer evaluations than others, resulting in lower total scores. In such cases, the missing evaluation scores will be calculated as the mean of the essay's judge-submitted scores.

In the case of a tie, all judges will be asked to participate in a tie-breaking vote. If a tie-breaking vote by an even number of judges results in a tie, Protein Report will make the final tie-breaking vote.

Only winning, runner-up, and honorable-mention essays will be announced. Final scores will not be reported publicly or individually to participants.

Must submissions be strictly food-related, or could they also be about materials/textiles, given many textiles we use are closely entwined with the food industry?

These topics aren't necessarily excluded from the contest, but any such submissions would need to be sure they are sufficiently addressing the question in the prompt, which is primarily about food system challenges.

Can my essay include scientific/technical details? Who should be the target audience?

Submissions about scientific and technical subject matter should strive to make those topics and details accessible to general audiences. Note the contest's judges come from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. A good rule of thumb to follow when drafting your essay might be to make sure no judge feels lost or excluded from your target audience while reading it.

Is there a specific time and time zone for the September 24 submission deadline?

The submission form will close at the end of September 24 according to the Anywhere on Earth calendar designation, which is UTC - 12.

I understand my essay must not include a cover page, and must not include any headers or footers containing my name or university. But can my essay include those details in its content?

Yes. Essays may include those details if they are part of the content's narrative.

Updated contest prizes and structure

Based upon the submissions received, it was decided to restructure the contest from having separate undergraduate and graduate student divisions with one cash prize in each, to having a single division with three cash prizes.

Have a question that's not answered here? Email us at

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